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Paperback | $33.95 Trade | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780262693615 | 307 pp. | 8 x 9 in | 32 b&w illus.| September 2007

The Prosthetic Impulse

From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future

About the Editors

Marquard Smith is Director of the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster, London. He is a Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Visual Culture.

Joanne Morra is Senior Lecturer in Historical and Theoretical Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London. She is principal editor of the journal of visual culture.


“Intriguing and delightful.... Together, these essays offer real insight into what means to be human in a pervasively mechanical world.”—The Futurist


“As we plunge ever more rapidly into the brave new cyberworld awaiting us in the twenty-first century, it is unclear if we are becoming prosthetic gods, as Freud famously prophesied, or prosthetic devils. This scintillating collection, featuring essays from many of our leading cultural critics, provides plenty of fodder for both conclusions.”
Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
“This collection heralds a new phase in the debate about technologies of the body. In place of the overblown rhetorics that have dogged the theme of prosthetics in previous decades, here we have essays that are stylish and astringent, alert to historical perspectives and present experiences as well as to future orientations. They have real insights to offer about what it means to be human in a pervasively technologized world.”
Jane R. Goodall, Professor, Writing and Society Research Program, University of Western Sydney
“The engaging essays in The Prosthetic Impulse provide a spectrum of ways of thinking about a postmodern body enmeshed in a biological world. Using visual and cultural resources from film to high art, the essays draw upon the best of contemporary theory to imagine bodies suspended between a biological imperative and a mechanistic future. 'We are all already prosthetic' is the motto—but we are also all already too fragile not to desire the prosthetic.”
Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emory University, author of Making the Body Beautiful and Fat Boys
“This is a fantastic book. The Prosthetic Impulse sustains the argument that prosthetic technologies can be not only a means of social control but also a riposte to notions of the normative body, a testing and tempering of the relationship between body and world. This it does across contributions that are truly remarkable for the depth and variety of their historical and cultural research.”
Laura U. Marks, Dena Wosk University Professor in Art and Culture Studies, Simon Fraser University, Canada, and author of Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media